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In the closing hours of the defense of Khe Sanh Combat Base, the longest and bloodiest battle of the Vietnam War, Tom Mahoney inexplicably walked away from his platoon, unarmed, and was shot to death by enemy soldiers hiding nearby. His fellow Marines made several desperate attempts to recover their well-liked comrade, but were finally forced to leave him behind—though never forgotten.
In The Long Goodbye, author Michael Archer (a high school friend who joined the Marines together with Tom) chronicles his exhaustive search for answers to his friend’s mysterious stroll into oblivion. This quest eventually leads to an improbable series of connections: from Tom’s childhood friends, to fellow Marines, past the frustration of numerous ineffective, often inept, attempts by the U.S. government to locate his remains, and eventually teaming up with a Vietnamese psychic intent on communicating with Tom’s “wandering soul.” Along the way, we discover the unexpected compassion of several former mortal enemies from that battle, now wishing to help honor the memory of a lone American among the tens of thousands on both sides who were sacrificed in the great meat grinder of Khe Sanh.
Swept up in this increasingly bizarre pursuit of clues, the author is soon “summoned” back to that infamous battleground and eventually tracks down the last remaining eyewitness to Tom Mahoney’s death—one of those who killed him—and experiences an astonishing epiphany.